Lisa Gansky details in the book The Mesh how economic conditions have shifted consumers’ priorities and behaviors. She highlights how some brands, as a result, are taking up residence in “the mesh,” and suggests strategies for those who are currently outsiders.
The mesh is essentially an environment where consumers receive products when and where they need them, thanks to more information from both social media and wireless networks.
The development of the mesh is partly a result of the recent human migration away from suburbs to urban areas. As these more densely populated areas spike in popularity, storage of possessions and management of waste are becoming issues. Combined with the current focus on global warming, this is something the business world and marketers should consider.
Most current models of commerce have a limited focus on product life cycles. It’s generally thought that someone will need a replacement product at some point, and what they do with the old product doesn’t matter. But it does, when seen in the context of growing urbanism.
As Gansky mentions, what if ”retailers set a stage for a ‘reverse’ supply chain, where the same careful attention to efficiency in supplying goods is applied to their recovery and reuse on the other end?” Some retailers already understand this notion. The outdoor gear company REI, for example, accepts old skis, refurbishes them, and rents them out. This helps consumers solve their storage problems while also giving REI a leadership role in the area of sustainability.
There are opportunities for non-retailers too. One of Modernista!’s clients, Doc to Dock, invites the medical industry to participate in this movement. The organization collects unused medical supplies from hospitals, matches these supplies with the needs of hospitals and clinics in developing countries, and ships the goods abroad. These actions effectively employ the mesh structure while preventing thousands of tons of supplies from populating landfills.
And so, the challenge is: How can other industries similarly reverse their status-quo supply chains?